Since I’ve been focusing heavily on healthcare recently, I thought I’d take a moment to give some quality basic nutrition advice.
See one of the beautiful things about nutrition, is that humans have already survived for thousands of years. Now, many take this to justify overly simplified atkins and paleo diets. True anthropological data shows that most paleo humans ate a wide variety of nuts, fruits, animals, and gasp! grains too. Oh well, not everyone can be justified in their extremist beliefs.
The beautiful point in all this, is that nutrition can be explained in an incredibly simple way. Simple complexity I like to call it. Nutrition is the rabbits hole of science, it’ll go as deep as you want to take it.
For the sake of brevity, let’s keep it to the ABC’s. Or as I remembered it from classes, ABC MVN.
In 6 words I can tell you the secret of nutrition. Following it is up to you.
1) Adequacy – Getting enough of the essentials
Any diet plan that leaves you deficient in any particular nutrient isn’t a real diet, that’s selective starvation. As I like to tell patients “Excess and Deficiencies cause disease“.
This can really carry multiple meanings. Balance can mean the balance between carbs/protein/fat, it can mean balance in life of exercise vs intake, or it can mean the balance of specific vitamins and minerals. Either way, all are essential to proper nutrition.
3) Calorie Control
You should all be aware of the calorie con debate by now. Calories in shouldn’t be your only driver in your diet, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for a dangerous game of controlled starvation. That being said, calories are an essential metric for weight loss, maintenance, or gain. Controlling them is useful to say the least.
You want the key to nutrition in one word, here it is. Moderation is such a broad word it can adequately cover calorie control, balance, and adequacy. Not to mention some of the points I’ll cover in just a minute. I know, it’s boring. Everyone knows moderation, but there’s a difference between knowing something and living by it. Too much of one food or food group, and you’re almost guaranteed to fail on one of the other points.
We’re starting to get repetitive with new words, but variety (covered under both Moderation and Balance) is essential to proper nutrition. See, as much as humans try to achieve nutritional harmony by means of Soylent or other “complete nutrition solutions” there’s still plenty of non-nutritive ingredients we don’t understand, like phytochemicals and antioxidants. Until we figure these out, eating a wide range of fruits/vegetables/meats is the best way to “double-down” on your personal health.
6) Nutrient Density
Last but certainly not least, this is a hotly debated topic that emphasizes the quality of your food. See without nutrient density, a diet could encourage 100 donuts a day, assuming a donut provides 1/100th of any particular nutrient. Focusing your diet on foods that provide low calories and high nutrients, like vegetables and certain animal products (milk and eggs) is vital to a productive diet plan.
And that’s it.
Michael Pollan once wrote “Nutrition simplified reads ‘Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants“.
My version reads “Practice Moderation; with Foods, Food Groups, Vitamins, and Calories” and that pretty much sums up all 6 previous points.
Enough calories, but not too much.
Enough carbs/protein/fat, but not too much of any.
Enough vitamins and minerals, but not too much.
And not too much of any one food item. (broccoli, carrots, etc.)
They don’t call it a rabbit hole for nothing.
Keep digging and be good to each other.
– Joshua Iufer, RD